Thursday, 13 October 2011

Hold your clenched fists and breathe!

Photo Credit to: Courtney Messenbaugh
You feel your heart rate increasing as it pounds harder behind your ribcage. Blood surges to your head and your rational mind gradually becomes disengaged as your thoughts become distorted. Breathing becomes more rapid. You feel the muscle in your arms tensing up. The tension spreads to every other parts of your body. You unconsciously roll your fingers into a clenched fist. You don’t realise it at first but your body seems to be saying something. Then, you feel it -- every neuron, cell, organ and muscle in your body is yelling at you to fight or take flight.

This is when you feel the insane urge to throw your fist into someone’s face or yell at something because unfortunately, in times of anger rarely do we take flight instead.

No one escapes the inevitable emotion of anger. It is more apparent in today’s fast paced, high stress, society where there are higher expectations that gives rise to higher rate of failures. Anger usually occurs due to differing expectations of yours and the rest of the world. It happens because one party failed to meet the expectations of another in a thousand and one possible ways. Regretfully, a punch thrown or words said in a fit of anger in the corporate world would soil your reputation and could land you in the land of the jobless. Amidst all the stress and pressure, how does one maintain social grace in the face of rising blood pressure and a pounding heart behind that chest?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” The key is the very essence of survival – Breathing. Breathing reduces your heart rate and reduces the amount of blood surging to your brains. Breathing increases the amount of oxygen going to your brain. A properly hydrated and oxygenated brain is a high functioning brain. Your initially disengaged rational comes back into consciousness. You are then better able to control your thoughts and desires. It may still seem utterly tempting to throw your fist at someone but at this stage you’d know better.

Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way... that is not easy.
-- Aristotle.

Dr. Allison Yeo

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